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Mistakes you never knew you were making with your dog

by Silver Paw on April 19, 2018

As a dog owner, you want your dog to have the best life possible. After all, your dog provides you with unconditional love and cuddles. If you're like me, you love them like a family member. But since you're a human, you might make a few mistakes with your dog without even realizing it. Here are a few of the common mistakes, shared with me by veterinarians and dog trainers.

NOT DOING YOUR RESEARCH

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success with your dog is to be prepared from the outset. Dr. Rachel Barrack, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine of Animal Acupuncture told me in our interview, "Owning a dog or cat is a responsibility for the lifetime of that pet. Make sure you are prepared before making that commitment. Pets require time and money."

In addition, be careful when selecting which type of breed to adopt. Barrack added, "If you are interested in a specific breed of dog, do your research first. Do not make an impulse decision. Some dogs require a lot more activity than others, some dogs do not do well left alone for long periods, some do not do well with small children or cats. Make sure to make the right choice for your home and lifestyle."

A little bit of research and forethought will save you a lot of headaches later on.


PURCHASING YOUR PET FROM A PET STORE

In addition to researching the type of dog you should get, also research where you get your dog as well. Barrack told me, "Often times pet stores obtain dogs from puppy mills. Puppy mills confine dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary, deplorable conditions. Their purpose is to churn out puppies for profit with little concern for the well being of the dogs."

Instead, Barrack recommended, "Do not support this cause. Rescue a dog from your local animal shelter or carefully research a quality, reputable breeder."

There are so many great dog rescues out there, and many of them will provide a lot of information about the dogs in their care. They'll help you choose the right dog for you, as well. 

 

WAITING TOO LONG TO SOCIALIZE YOUR PUPPY

If you decide to get a puppy rather than an adult dog, you have a great opportunity to train your dog and help them develop the behaviors you want. But you also have the responsibility of socializing them at a very young age.

Dr. Gary Richter, doctor of veterinary medicine, veterinary health expert, and Dog People Panel member with Rover.com told me, "As a general rule, the earlier the better for socializing your puppy. The 'magic' window for socialization of puppies ends around 14 weeks of age. Up until then, they are very open to new experiences and are learning what is 'normal' in their world."

Waiting until your dog is older to socialize them can cause problems. Dr. Richter added, "After 14 weeks, they can become suspicious and fearful, making socialization more challenging. The more healthy, well-vaccinated dogs you can introduce a new puppy to the better."

He continued, "The same goes with introducing them to people, cats, etc. It has to be done in a safe environment though. Puppy classes, enclosed yards, or someone's house are all okay. Avoid sidewalks, dog parks, and anywhere else that you don't have control of which dogs come and go. Until the puppy is fully vaccinated, he is at risk. Safe socialization is the key."


BEING INCONSISTENT WHEN TRAINING YOUR DOG

I have a friend who is a dog trainer, and he told me that the hardest part of his job is training the dogs' owners. One of the easiest mistakes to make as a dog owner is not being consistent with your training. I also spoke with Alison Patrolia, certified veterinary technician and dog trainer with Hub City Dog Training, and she agreed with my friend.

Patrolia told me, "Inconsistency is commonly seen when pet owners do not follow through with a command or schedule routine for their dog. The consequences that result is a confused dog that will then assume that he/she does not have to do that particular command."

She provided a few examples as well: "For instance, if some pet owners allow their dog to jump up, but another person in the household does not want them to, then the dog is unclear of the expectations and will continue to jump up unless all involved ask the same of the dog (which would be not to jump up)."

If you're having a hard time staying consistent because you and the other members of your household have different expectations of your dog, it's worth it to have a conversation with them about dog training. A dog who has consistency will be more likely to behave the way you want them to.

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